I think most kids have something – some kind of toy or article of clothing – that they value more than others. At least for a period of time, there is usually a favorite, an item that gets carried about day in and day out until, one day, the child tires of it or forgets it and leaves it behind. Or, perhaps, some other object comes along to steal the child’s affection.
I had a special blanket when I was a girl. I don’t recall that much about it now and am not certain which memories are mine and which are ones that have been planted in me by my mother’s stories. My blanket was nothing elaborate or fancy, just an ordinary piece of soft white cloth that somehow made me feel safe. It was a large square and trimmed in a satin-like fabric that I liked to feel. I loved that blanket and dragged it around with me everywhere. I named it Plainy (I know; I was not an inventive kid) and it can be seen in some of the more candid pictures of me taken from ages 2-4 or so.
I guess my mother thought I was getting too dependent on the blanket or that it was looking to ratty for me to carry about. She likes to tell the story of how Plainy disappeared, unraveled slowly into space until it was no more. When she could pry the blanket from my hands, she’d throw it in the washing machine to clean it (a white blanket in the hands of a curious 3-year-old probably was a small mess). Before she’d give the blanket back to me, she’d cut off a strip of its fabric. Over months the blanket shrank, becoming smaller and smaller until I was carrying around a strip of tattered white cloth. Then one day Plainy simply disappeared.
My mom loves to tell of her cleverness in weaning me from my security blanket…and to be honest I don’t recall how I felt when that blanket finally dissolved. I can see pictures of me with it and am reminded of the times when I believed in the magic of my toys, of the conversations held with stuffed animals and the protection felt in the warmth of an old blanket.
I think around the age of 5 or so, after my blanket had been cut into scraps, I forged a deep bond with a pink stuffed pig. Like my plain old blanket, this pig was nothing special but I loved it and it became my new treasure. It was moved from house to house, attacked and chewed on by our dogs, used as football at many sleep overs, and still it survived. That old battered pig is still with me, somewhere, packed away in one of my boxes from childhood. Over the years, when I get into a cleaning phase and gather things to donate or throw away, I have come across pink piggy many times but something always stops me from placing it in the discard pile. I guess there is something kind of magical and certainly sentimental about holding an object now that was once held by your childhood self, and knowing that a version of you is still imprinted on that thing that once held such power and importance.